by Phoebe Stone
Arthur A. Levine, 2011. 296 pgs. Fiction.
Although the cover is inexplicably unrelated to the text (were pink Bozo shoes and ankle socks even invented during World War II?), this is a great story. Felicity Bathburn Budwig, an 11-year old British girl, comes to America to avoid the bombing of the Blitz and stays with her father's family in Bottlebay, Maine. It is quickly apparent that there is some sort of "rift" in the family--her Uncle Gideon refuses to shake hands with her father Danny and is equally chilly towards her mother, Winnie. Though she is determined not to like her new family, Felicity--or Flissy, as she comes to be known--is soon an active member of the household which includes, besides Uncle Gideon, her grandmother, "The Gram," her Aunt Miami, and a mysterious person locked in an upstairs room--Captain Derek. Things soon become even more mysterious as Uncle Gideon receives overseas airmail letters in Danny's handwriting from Portugal, though he denies the letters are from Felicity's father. He also disappears for hours to a deserted offshore island, and hides the letters in a locked room. After Flissy coaxes "Captain" Derek out of his room, the two undertake to crack a secret code, discover the identity of Mr. Donovan , an enigmatic visitor from Washington, D. C., and find a boyfriend for Aunt Miami. Can't reveal much more without spoiling some significant surprises, but The Romeo and Juliet Code is a grand story in the British tradition, written by an American who fell in love with England at age ten. Well done!